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Description:In order for a healthcare provider to measure a patient’s blood pressure a sphygmomanometer will be used. Pictured here, this device consists of a pressurized cuff that encircles the patient’s upper arm, and a monitor, which indicates changes in pressure within the cuff.

Using a stethoscope in order to listen for, and record the sounds indicative of the high (systolic), and low (diastolic) pressure values that are used to measure a patient’s blood pressure, the clinician will place the sound-sensitive end against the crook of the arm, just distal to the cuff. Much like a tourniquet, as pressure is released from the cuff, blood begins to once again flow through the arm’s arteries, creating turbulent sounds, and at the moment one hears the sounds, the readings on the gauge are recorded.
Measuring your blood pressure is quick and painless. A doctor or health professional wraps an inflatable cuff with a pressure gauge around your arm to squeeze the blood vessels. Then he or she listens to your pulse with a stethoscope while releasing air from the cuff and watching the gauge. The gauge measures blood pressure in millimeters of mercury, which is abbreviated as mmHg.

Blood pressure is measured using two numbers. The first (systolic) number represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The second (diastolic) number represents the pressure in your vessels when your heart rests between beats. If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say "120 over 80" or write "120/80 mmHg."

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Content Providers(s):CDC/ Amanda Mills
Creation Date:2011
Photo Credit:Amanda Mills
Links:CDC - Nat. Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Div. for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention: High Blood Pressure
CDC Organization
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Copyright Restrictions:None - This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy we request that the content provider be credited and notified in any public or private usage of this image.